Speaking Peace

"But I'm not violent!"

That's what most people say when I try to tell them about Nonviolent Communication. But I think their reaction stems from a misunderstanding of the how the word "nonviolent" is used in this context.

Ghandi defined Nonviolence as Truth and Love. He said, "Nonviolence translated 'love' is the supreme law of human beings."

My understanding of Nonviolent Communication is "speaking the truth in love." It teaches you to listen and speak from a place of love rather than fear
(or fear's offspring: anger, shame, guilt, and blame).

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) uses a simple 4-step formula to help you connect with others in truth and love. The steps include: 1) Observations, 2) Feelings, 3) Needs, and 4) Requests.

"When I observe __________ (something specific, without judgments or evaluations), I feel _________ because I need _________. Would you be willing to _______ ?"

The next time you feel upset about something, try using this formula and see what happens. But before you do, you might want to take a look at these lists of Feelings and Needs (most of us are clueless when it comes to expressing these).

If you find yourself following "I feel" with "that," try again. You're not expressing a feeling, but a thought. And if you follow "I need" with "you" or "them," try again. That's not a need, but only a strategy for getting your need met.

While NVC seems pretty simple, it can be really difficult to put into practice. But the life-giving changes that take place when you practice it make it well worth the effort.

Take a look at the NVC website, read Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, or sign up for a workshop or practice group. If you take these principles to heart and put them into practice, I guarantee it will change your life. You will move out of that place of fear and move into a place of love and peace.

"I must continue by faith or it is too great a burden to bear and violence, even in self-defense, creates more problems than it solves. Only a refusal to hate or kill can put an end to the chain of violence in the world and lead us toward a community where men can live together without fear. Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives." --Martin Luther King, Jr.